Archive | May, 2014

We WILL remember, We SHALL NOT forget

We WILL remember, We SHALL NOT forget

Posted on 08 May 2014 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebFollowing Havdallah, it started: All that could be heard in Congregation Beth Torah’s quiet sanctuary was a single voice, reading single names. Over and over, every 15 minutes, they stepped up on the bimah — individuals, couples, families — to say aloud the names of those lost in the Holocaust.

This was the bar mitzvah year for “Unto Every Person There Is a Name,” an annual 24-hour vigil pioneered by the shul’s Men’s Club. So this year paid special honor to the memories of all the children who never lived to Jewish adulthood. On Shabbat morning, Beth Torah’s Learning Center students led a “Celebration of Life” service; the next morning, they read aloud brief bios of 20 children born between 1928 and 1933 in 11 different countries, to “Celebrate the B’nai Mitzvah of Those Who Could Not.”

The sanctuary itself was dark, lit only by the flicker of memorial candles and the Ner Tamid. And then — something different: At 12:45 a.m., a screen on the front wall came to life with a far-away face, a far-away voice. For the next two hours, the names were read aloud in Israel, transmitted to Richardson, Texas, in real time through the modern miracle of Skype.

Magdi Olah, chair of Beth Torah’s newly established Israel Action Committee, had asked the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas to help find a Conservative synagogue in the Western Galilee, JFGD’s “sister” area of Israel that would like to forge a connection. This name-reading was the first joint project of our local shul and its counterpart, HaMinyan HaMishpachti HaMasorti, in the village of Kfar Vradim. The Men’s Club’s Jeff Markowitz is the tech guru who made it happen. The distant faces and voices belonged to Rabbi Avi Novis Deutsch and seven of his congregants.

The Beth Torah Men’s Club received special commendation from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism soon after it initiated the Reading of the Names back in 2002. That first year, only congregants were involved. But in the years since, other synagogues have picked up this project, and many from outside our shul now join annually in remembering that every one of those lost souls was a real person with a real identity. The name, age and birthplace of each, read aloud, recognize one individual life. During those 24 hours of continuous reading, an average of 6,000 men, women and children are recalled, assuring that although they were lost, they are not forgotten.

This year, there was a brief post-Havdalah program before the reading began. During it, 11 candles were lit, one each for the six million of our people, five more for the additional millions who were victims of Nazi cruelty: Gypsies, homosexuals, political dissidents, the mentally challenged, the physically handicapped. Clergy and faculty from local churches and educational institutions were part of the ceremony that began with a Chanukah-like shammos that would kindle the others; this first flame, lit by local Jewish war veterans, honored all those who fought to keep the light of humanity alive during the Shoah. The congregational chorus as each candle leaped to life was “We shall not forget.”

The word “shall” makes its point. Back when English grammar was scrupulously studied, “shall” had a separate life from today’s all-purpose “will.” When used with the first-person “I” or “we,” as it was here, it was not a declaration of future intent, but a simple statement of fact: this WILL be remembered always: today, tomorrow, forever. And so it should be. As the actual Holocaust recedes into history, we must double and redouble our remembering.

At this year’s Dallas community commemoration of the Shoah, the procession of survivors still able to make that long walk down Temple Shalom’s center sanctuary aisle numbered barely over a dozen, when in past years it had honored a doubling and redoubling of that number. Today, tomorrow, forever: all of us SHALL remember all of them, and remember for them.

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Caring for your body a religious duty

Caring for your body a religious duty

Posted on 08 May 2014 by admin

By Laura Seymour

seymourforweb2There is an important Jewish value called “sh’mirat haguf — caring for one’s body.” Some are surprised by this as we Jews have always been more concerned with caring for others in everything from giving tzedakah to business dealings. Yet, caring for yourself and your own body is essential in order to do for others.

Here are a few texts to look at and talk about — it is very interesting to see how “caring for your body” today compares with in the past:

“The body is the soul’s house. Shouldn’t we therefore take care of our house so that it doesn’t fall into ruin?”

— Philo Judaeus

“Since by keeping the body in health and vigor one walks in the ways of God — it being impossible during sickness to have any understanding or knowledge of the Creator — it is a man’s duty to avoid whatever is injurious to the body and cultivate habits conducive to health and vigor.”

— Maimonides

“Washing your hands and feet in warm water every evening is better than all the medicines in the world.”

— Babylonian Talmud

“…There is no such thing as excessive body movements and exercise. Because body movements and exercise will ignite natural heat and superfluities will be formed in the body, but they will be expelled. Exercise removes the harm caused by most bad habits, which most people have. And no movement is as beneficial, according to the physicians, as body movements and exercise. Exercise refers both to strong and weak movements, provided it is a movement that is vigorous and affects breathing, increasing it. Violent exercise causes fatigue, and not everyone can stand fatigue nor needs it. It is good for the preservation of health to shorten the exercises.”

— Maimonides

The sages saw a close connection between medicine and religion — between the body and the soul. Our bodies belong to God and have been given to us on loan. Caring for your body by keeping it clean and healthy is a religious duty that honors God; neglecting your body or intentionally abusing it is a sin that profanes God.

Today caring for your body includes diet and exercise. We are entering “bathing suit” time so get fit! At the J, we are always reminded of the importance of physical fitness and we are lucky to have a great place to work out.

Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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Shearith Israel Rabbi William Gershon tapped to lead Rabbinical Assembly

Shearith Israel Rabbi William Gershon tapped to lead Rabbinical Assembly

Posted on 08 May 2014 by admin

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

For the next two years, Rabbi William Gershon will serve as president of the Rabbinical Assembly. He hopes to bring his years of experience as a rabbi and passion for Judaism to the forefront to make an impact.

Gershon, the senior rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel, will be installed at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 13 in the Aaron Family Main Sanctuary at the synagogue, located at 9401 Douglas Ave. in Dallas. It will be followed by a dessert reception sponsored by the Shearith Israel Sisterhood.

The Rabbinical Assembly is the membership organization for Conservative rabbis and has about 1,700 members. Gershon has had other leadership roles with the Rabbinical Assembly in the past and said this is a great honor for him.

“This is a real highlight for my career and my life’s work,” he said. “The Conservative movement and its future is something I believe in very deeply and I am honored to have the opportunity to serve my fellow colleagues. I hope to [have an effect] not only on the Conservative movement, but the American Jewish community and the world.”

Gershon is the first rabbi from Dallas to become the Rabbinical Assembly’s president. In addition to continuing his duties at Shearith Israel, Gershon’s role involves traveling and representing the Conservative movement, having a seat at tables with board members from different organizations and more.

His goals are to help strengthen the Rabbinical Assembly from an organizational, financial and strategic perspective; uniting the Conservative movement; working closely with others to help achieve that; and reaching out to his colleagues and rabbis to make sure the Rabbinical Assembly is assisting them at the highest level.

“As the role of the rabbi has changed in American Jewish life, the Rabbinical Assembly is especially poised to make a contribution to serving them,” Gershon said. “I think of this as a wonderful opportunity for growth, creativity and to tap into the immense talents of the Conservative rabbinate. It’s my plan to really tap into that.”

Gershon is a national leader and recognized among the Conservative movement, and that’s what makes him perfect for this job, said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly.

He is a member of the Chancellor’s Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Theological Seminary and the AIPAC National Council. Locally, he also serves on the boards of Ann and Nate Levine Academy and the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association.

Schonfeld said Gershon is an exciting, dynamic rabbi who embraces change, which is important as the Jewish community today is in a constant state of evolution.

“We feel lucky to have Rabbi Gershon as our incoming president,” she said. “He is established in national leadership on a number of importance issues like education and outreach to the younger generation. He has a national reputation and is known for his support of Israel, while also being a forward thinker and a strong, effective leader. His leadership by example in Dallas of creating such a vibrant community is one that will bring a lot of strength and ideas to his colleagues around the world.”

Added Gershon: “I am very grateful to Congregation Shearith Israel for allowing me the opportunity to serve the movement, the American Jewish community and worldwide Jewry with this position.”

There is no charge to attend the installation, but registration is required. To register, call Janice Leventhal at 214-361-6606 or visit www.shearith.org.

Rabbinical Assembly annual convention

The Rabbinical Assembly’s annual convention will take place in Dallas at the Park Cities Hilton May 12-15. It will begin with an opening plenary with Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly; JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen; Rabbi Bradley Artson of American Jewish University; and Steven Wernick, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.

Other events on the agenda include Rabbi William Gershon’s installation as president of the Rabbinical Assembly, speakers, learning opportunities and more.

For more information, visit www.rabbinicalassembly.org/node/15471.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 08 May 2014 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidson

Many, many years ago my youngest son Ethan and I drove to Austin to visit my youngest daughter, Jordana, who was studying at UT Austin, and was also a proud member of the sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi. Before I venture farther into this paragraph, I want to clarify that Ethan did the driving — I was merely the supervisor.

The sorority was participating in the Susan B. Komen walk, and honoring the memory of the late Janis Levine Music z’l.

I remember the day quite clearly — a very warm and sunny Austin morning. A horde of AEPhi members as well as female relatives took off to embrace the race earnestly and competitively.

Although I am probably not the most athletic member of my family, I was ready to do the walk and keep moving.

The sorority girls were way ahead of Jordana and me. She stayed with me, though prodding me occasionally — that “the others will finish first and we’ll be last.”

In my breathless quasi-wisdom, I can remember replying — “that it is a race; however, it is more about the participation — that it wasn’t in the winning, but in the doing and being present.”

Of course, we were the last ones to cross the finish line, but I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment for both the participation and the cause.

I have a feeling that Jordana learned something from the experience. Many years later she would tell me that she figured it out and understood — and that conversation brought tears to my eyes.

With that said, I want to feature two very important Walks/Races that will take place in the community in the next two weeks.

Learn more about Sjogren’s and other autoimmune diseases at healthfare

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease, which can affect the many mucous membranes of the body and cause a host of aggravating symptoms in those affected with the disease.

Most commonly patients may complain of dry mouth or dry eyes; however, it can affect organs in the body as well.

A visit to a board-certified rheumatologist can assist in making the diagnosis, although Sjogren’s can occur with other autoimmune diseases.

The 2014 DFW/Sjogren’s Walkabout and Health Fair will take place May 10 at Grapevine Mills Mall near the Food Court. The Health Fair and Registration will begin at 10 a.m., with the walkabout following at 11 a.m.

The walkabout focuses on raising community awareness of Sjogren’s while raising funds to support the research and awareness programs of the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation (SSF).

Whether you are able to walk, meet other Sjogren’s patients, or support friends and family, everyone is welcome, and your presence is vital in helping to spread the message about the seriousness of Sjogren’s.

Area physicians will be on hand to answer questions about Sjogren’s. All are welcome to attend the event and visit the health fair exhibits.

There is no cure for Sjogren’s at this time.

For additional information or questions, contact Ben Basloe at the SSF 301-530-4420, ext. 207.

Free to Breathe Run/Walk May 18 to raise awareness, vital research funding

Register, raise funds, and run or walk — that’s all it takes to be a hero in the eyes of a person facing lung cancer.

Hundreds of local residents will join the nationwide movement to double lung cancer survival by participating in the Dallas/Fort Worth Free to Breathe Run/Walk May 18 at the Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve in Plano.

All proceeds from the event support Free to Breathe, a lung cancer research and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring surviving lung cancer is the expectation, not the exception.

“It only takes one day of action to make a lifetime of impact,” said former volunteer event chair Susan Swanson of Dallas. “By joining the Free to Breathe movement and fundraising, you help fund research that may unlock a new treatment that can save the life of someone in our community.”

The Free to Breathe events community, united in the belief that every person with lung cancer deserves a cure, has helped raise more than $10 million to fund crucial research and provide comprehensive resources to help people living with lung cancer make decisions about their care.

In support of the 2013 Dallas/Fort Worth Free to Breathe Run/Walk, community members, teams and local businesses championed the cause by raising more than $214,000 to help those facing lung cancer and their families.

This year there will be a 10k run, 5k run/walk and 1-mile walk, with awards for fundraisers and top finishers. The day will also include food, a rally, live music, and fun for the whole family. Help double lung cancer survival by 2022. To register and begin fundraising, visit www.freetobreathe.org.

Those who can’t take part in the Dallas/Fort Worth Free to Breathe Run/Walk can bring their individual determination and creativity to the movement by organizing a community fundraising event of their own.

Free to Breathe resources can help guide you to fundraise, mark a special occasion or host an event of your choosing — the possibilities are endless but the end result is certain — improving the lives of everyone affected by lung cancer. To get started today visit www.freetobreathe.org/community-fundraising.

Many of the members of the Dallas/Fort Worth Free to Breathe committee were brought together by Joan Schiller, M.D., who took care of many of their family members and friends. Dr. Susan Swanson was 2011-2013 event chair. Dr. Swanson’s close friend was one of Dr. Schiller’s patients. Dr. Swanson found that working with others to bring a FTB to Dallas/Fort Worth helped her channel her deep grief into action.

Dr. Joan Schiller, M.D. is widely published and internationally recognized for her work in Lung cancer clinical research. She is the deputy director of Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center and Division Director of Hematology/Oncology at the University of Texas-Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. In 2001, Dr. Schiller formed The National Lung Cancer Partnership, now called Free to Breathe, and she is actively involved in all facets of the organization.

Andres Family Lecture Series, Wednesday, May 14

The Dallas Jewish Historical Society will present professor Mark K. Bauman, Ph.D., who will speak on “Quiet Voices: Southern Rabbis and Civil Rights” at 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 14 at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, 7900 Northaven Road in Dallas.

The study of black-Jewish relations has been filled with controversy, especially with the role played by Jewish leaders during the Civil Rights Movement. Did these leaders play a pivotal role or did many of them, especially in the South, succumb to societal pressures and strive to be accepted rather than risk being persecuted? If some of these leaders did choose a quieter path, were their reasons valid? And were their methods successful?

Mark K. Bauman serves as founding and current editor of Southern Jewish History. Bauman investigates individual, inter- and intragroup behavior through the study of religious/ethnic/immigrant memories.

In conjunction with the lecture series, the DJHS will hold its annual meeting and volunteer appreciation recognition.

Herzl Hadassah Monthly Meeting

Storm hunter Stephen Levine will be the featured speaker when the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah, Herzl Group meets at 10 a.m., Monday, May 12 in the Conference Room at the JCC.

In addition to Levine’s stormy stories, there will be a final report of the Lifesaver Luncheon. There is no charge but donations to Hadassah will be accepted. Hadassah greeting cards and scrip will be available for purchase.

Press Notes

Kudos to Max Wolens, 18, St. Marks senior and son of Laura Miller and Steve Wolens and grandson of Maliette Wolens. Max was featured last month in Popular Photography magazine as a rising star among photographers under 20.

Max was honored twice as one of Texas’ top 10 high school students by the state’s Association of Photography Instructors.

He has more than 40 photography awards to his credit, including First Place in Adobe’s Teen Photo International Contest.

You can see more of his work on his website, maxwolensphoto.com.

Max will head to Stanford in the fall.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 01 May 2014 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

The Wisch Family friendship with Elya Naxon goes back almost half a century.  Elya and her late husband, Bill, were always involved in charitable causes and socio-economic issues.  In her later years, Elya still possesses that indefatigable spirit and is an example to all.

At the DME Exchange friends group are from left, Dr. Ron Anderson, Dr. Stan and Linda Pomarantz, Gail and Dr. Peter Loeb and Elya Naxon. | Photo: Jan Naxon

At the DME Exchange friends group are from left, Dr. Ron Anderson, Dr. Stan and Linda Pomarantz, Gail and Dr. Peter Loeb and Elya Naxon. | Photo: Jan Naxon

DME Exchange of Dallas launches friends group

“I’ve never been at the birthing of an organization,” said Elya Naxon, event chair that launched the Friends of DME Exchange of Dallas (Durable Medical Equipment). “The work that this group is doing is so important.”

The DME Exchange of Dallas is a nonprofit organization helping uninsured, underinsured and low income residents of Dallas County receive the durable medical equipment that they need for recovery from an accident, injury or assistance with a chronic condition. The agency collects donated equipment, repairs and sanitizes it, then distributes it to qualified Dallas County residents free of charge. No other organization addresses DME needs countywide.

It began in 2010 when Dallas Area Interfaith, a coalition of civic and religious institutions, surveyed Dallas County residents and discovered there were many who were unable to access the medical equipment they needed because they were uninsured, underinsured or had low incomes. This lack of access was identified as one of the top five issues needing attention in Dallas.

The launch party was hosted by Gail and Dr. Peter Loeb and co-chaired by Delores and Dr. Lawrence Barzune and Karen and Walter Levy.  Dr. Ron Anderson, former CEO and president of Parkland Hospital and Health System and founder of the Dallas County Community Health Initiative, was the featured guest speaker. Anderson said that he’d been aware of the desperate need for DME to help patients recover more     quickly, return home sooner, and go back to work earlier. “An estimated 25,000-50,000 people annually in Dallas County will go without life-changing equipment because they cannot afford it,” he said.

Dr. Stan Pomarantz, president of the DME Exchange of Dallas board, is keenly aware of the need for DME because of his work with Parkland Hospital. One day, he opened up his garage door and saw his mother’s wheelchair gathering dust. “There must be thousands of pieces of equipment stashed in people’s garages, attics and closets. Why not recycle them and give them to people who need them now?” thought Pomarantz.

“I know from my work as an occupational therapist how important the proper equipment is during a patient’s recovery,” Naxon said. “Without proper equipment, a patient may suffer complications in recovery or possibly be re-injured. Members of the Friends of DME Exchange of Dallas will dramatically help improve a person’s quality of life.”

“Right now, we have an urgent need for wheelchairs and shower chairs,” said Pomarantz. The agency also collects home hospital beds, walkers, rollators, bedside commodes, crutches, tub transfer benches and patient lifts.

Founding members of the Texas Jewish Arts Association are, from left, Veronique Jonas, Jan Ayers Friedman, Julie Meetal Berman, Nan Phillips and Nancy Israel. | Photo: Susan Kandell

Founding members of the Texas Jewish Arts Association are, from left, Veronique Jonas, Jan Ayers Friedman, Julie Meetal Berman, Nan Phillips and Nancy Israel. | Photo: Susan Kandell

Texas Jewish Arts Association: a new (Texas) State-of-the-Art Group in formation

Last May, the Dallas Jewish Historical Society organized an evening called in the “Eye of the Beholder.” Following a brief lecture about the nature of Jewish art presented by Nancy Cohen Israel, 19 local Jewish artists exhibited their remarkable work. The event attracted more than 200 people and, by all accounts, was deemed a huge success!

Small groups present at that gathering have been working to capitalize on the energy of that evening and organized a group called the Texas Jewish Art Association. Open to both visual artists and those who work in the art world, its goal is to foster a sense of camaraderie through informational and educational gatherings and exhibition opportunities.

Much thought has been given to formulating an organization such this.

TJAA is the inaugural Jewish fine arts organization in Texas. TJAA was based on the premise that throughout Jewish history, Jews have moved and adapted, but their core is immutable. The Jewish people have always survived and have accomplished substantial goals by being flexible. On that evening last year, they joyfully rediscovered that although they were all different, and work in vastly different ways, they were one people after all, but with a single center.

In January of this year, the organization had its first meeting, assembling 25 like-minded artists and others in the field. The enthusiasm and excitement in the room was palpable. Serving as their spokeswoman, Nancy Israel outlined how the idea originated and delineated their vision.

The TJAA already has its first exhibition planned and arrangements are underway with the Aaron Family JCC to host the exhibit in the fall.

If you’ve read this far, perhaps you are an artist or know an artist, or someone in the art field who may be looking for an opportunity to be a part of this innovative and distinctive new group. If you are an artist, art historian, gallerist, art lover or collector, the group hopes that you join them as they embark on this exciting journey.

If you have an expertise in any of the following areas, your assistance is greatly needed. The TJAA is starting from the ground up and will be assembling a steering committee/board plus exhibition and education committees. They also need those who are proficient in social media, publicity and website design.

The TJAA will host a membership kick-off meeting from 4-6 p.m., Sunday, May 4. This will be a meet and greet event where they will discuss exhibition opportunities, the groups’ structure, vision and future goals. In addition, the TJAA will announce a logo competition that will be voted on by “dues paying” members. Please contact Veronique Jonas at veronique@ketubah-art.com for more information about the organization or meeting details.

Don’t miss this opportunity to be an integral part of an artist-run organization! Jewish artists and promoting dialogue about Jewish identity and related issues among members of the arts community commit the group to encouraging visual art.

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Here we go again

Here we go again

Posted on 01 May 2014 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebProselytizing rears its head for me every year. The calendar conjunction of Passover and Easter makes it inevitable, it seems that some Christians — plus those Jews who call themselves “Messianics” since they profess a belief in Jesus — want to draw me into their folds.

This year, someone has returned me to the mailing list of “Issues,” a publication subtitled “A Messianic Jewish Perspective.” But my “benefactor” of course remains anonymous.

I’m not among those Jews who get annoyed each spring when white crosses begin popping up on greening lawns like early seasonal flowers. Live and let live, I say. On Easter morning, the little crosses get turned around so that this message appears: “He is risen.” This is OK with me. Free speech, freedom of worship, private property and all that. I know the Resurrection is a cornerstone of Christian belief, and I honor it as such. I do not, however, enjoy it appearing in my mailbox. Freedom FROM religion should be honored as well.

The seasonal “attacks” are sometimes subtle, other times not so much. They may be offered somewhat slyly, or come down as hard as a hammer to the head. The latter is the case with “Issues,” whose message is a standard one: Why are you not a “complete” Jew? “Complete” in this context means, “Why don’t you step beyond the time-honored tenets of Judaism to accept Jesus as the messiah? Why don’t you accept his God-ness and add the ‘New Testament’ to your belief in the ‘Old’?”

I’m especially annoyed that these attempts to convince and convert come anonymously; I am not going to attempt answering someone(s) unknown, except by quoting once again that old Yiddish proverb: One individual cannot dance at two weddings at the same time.

My true friends among believing Christians — not the so-called Messianic Jews — send me notes and cards wishing a happy Passover, and I send them the same sentiments for Easter. We recognize and honor each other’s beliefs, and let matters of religion go at that. But sometimes a new acquaintance gets her hopes up and tries to slip something “subtle” into the message. Try this for an example:

“Just as you are celebrating the blood of the Passover lamb protecting the Israelites from God’s wrath as they prepared to leave Egypt and allowing them to enter the Promised Land, we are about to celebrate the blood of Jesus saving us from God’s wrath and allowing us to enter God’s presence eternally in heaven. May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Whom we all worship, enrich your Passover celebration. And may His unchangeable Word enlighten every day of your celebration and ours.” This sounds to me sweet and thoughtful on the surface, yet there’s something dangerous seething beneath it.

And sometimes, even a relative can’t resist. I have a cousin-by-marriage who belongs to a Christian church that studies and honors its roots in Judaism. This year, the personal message added to the print on her annual springtime card read: “May you have a blessed, joyous Passover as you celebrate with remembrance the true story of Exodus 12.” Fair enough, I guess. Yet she couldn’t resist adding another few words, written on a yellow sticky note appended to the card: “I’m so excited! Going to a Messianic Passover celebration with a group of friends from my church.”

What should I say? What can I say? Maybe there’s really nothing to say except this:

There should be three R’s for Christians and so-called Messianic Jews during the Passover/Easter season, just as there are for basic learning. The first is Resurrection. I acknowledge its importance to those who believe in it. But numbers two and three are grounded in the solid Jewish beliefs of those like myself. Please honor us with Respect, and exercise religious Restraint. Do those things, and I’ll continue to read your anonymous gift of “Issues” whenever it arrives in my mailbox.

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Around the Town

Posted on 01 May 2014 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Thanks to Dr. Julian Haber for sharing good news about his new book, “Lydia and the Postal Inspector,” a group of short stories. The stories, both fiction and non-fiction, cover a variety of subjects.

Lydia is an elderly con woman threatened by a blackmailed mobster. Experience a family’s quest to find a boy’s mother swept away by a tornado in A Golden Tear Drop. When a woman seeks help for her malady from a cult she gets trapped in the House of Ramses. A huge flashover surrounds a group of firefighters battling a blaze at a county courthouse in Harvey and The Firehouse Ghost.

A woman after eye surgery discovers that all of her dresses are of a different color. Visiting the Normandy D-Day beaches (a Jewish prospective) and more, more, more, short stories.

It’s been a family endeavor. Julian’s wife, Marian Haber, authored two of the short stories and edited the work. Grandson Jackson Haber, son of Dr. and Mrs. Lawrence Haber, co-authored “A Golden Tear Drop” and son Fire Captain Howard Haber co-authored “Harvey, and The Firehouse Ghost.”

Julian holds degrees in psychology and medicine from the University of Miami. Several of his stories have appeared in major publications such as Good Housekeeping, American Veteran, American Family Physician and the Fort Worth Star Telegram to name a few. Critics including the Literary Digest, Critique, the Miami Herald and Texas Press among others lauded his previous six books.

For further information about the book, contact Julian at julianhaber@aol.com, 817-346-1902, 7001 Candlestick Court, Fort Worth, TX, 76133.

Brite Divinity School presents Cristol lecture

“Dethroning David and Enthroning Messiah: Jewish and Christian Perspectives” is the topic of the Brite Divinity school Cristol Lecture at 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 13, in the Bass Conference Hall at TCU’s Brite Divinity School. The program will be presented by scholars George J. Brooke and Hindy Najman.

Brooke is professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis at University of Manchester, UK, where he specializes in the study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Semitic Studies. He holds an M.A. and D.D. from Oxford University and a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School.

Among his publications are “The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament” (Fortress, 2005) and “Reading the Dead Sea Scrolls: Early Judaism and Its Literature” (SBL, 2013). He is currently working on a new edition of several manuscripts from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Preliminary work on that project was published in “The Mermaid and the Partridge” (Leiden: Brill, 2011). Brooke served as the president of the British Association for Jewish Studies and was president of the Society for Old Testament Study. Currently he serves as the editor of the “Studies on the Texts of the Desert of Judah” series.

Najman is professor of Religious Studies at Yale University, where she specializes in Second Temple Judaism, Hebrew Bible, early Rabbinics and the history of Jewish interpretation. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

Among her publications are “Seconding Sinai: The Development of Mosaic Discourse in Second Temple Judaism” (Brill, 2003) and “Past Renewals” (Brill, 2010). Her new book, “Losing the Temple and Recovering the Future: An Analysis of 4 Ezra,” is scheduled to appear later this year. Najman served as the editor-in-chief for the Journal for the Study of Judaism Supplement Series from 2008 to 2011 and was the thematic issues editor for the Dead Sea Discoveries from 2003 to 2010.

The lecture will be followed by a light reception.

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Why count the Omer?

Why count the Omer?

Posted on 01 May 2014 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi,

I have learned that the period of time after Pesach is called the “counting of the Omer.” We are said to be counting the days from Passover until the holiday of Shavuos. What is the point of this counting, now that we have calendars and can simply look up the date of Shavuos? Is it one of those things we do just because they used to do it, or is there some other reason for doing this count?

— Marc W.

Dear Marc,

friedforweb2This counting, called sefiras ha’omer, is actually one of the 613 mitzvos of the Torah: “You shall count for yourselves — from the morrow of the rest day (Pesach), from the day when you bring the Omer (offering)…seven weeks…” (Leviticus/Vayikra 23:15).

There are a number of levels of understanding of this mitzvah. When one has an event coming up that he is truly excited about and looking forward to, he counts the days until that time arrives. For the Jewish people, the most exciting time in our history was receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. This is the time we achieved the greatest intimacy of all time with the Almighty. At that time we became an eternal nation, and received our “marching orders” for the upcoming thousands of years on how to be a light among the nations and elevate ourselves to unique spiritual greatness.

Although this transpired more than 3,300 years ago, our tradition teaches that our holidays are not mere celebrations of historical occurrences. We have often explained in this column that our holidays recur yearly; the same spiritual light revealed by the Almighty at this time of our history returns when we arrive at the same time of the year it occurred so long ago. In a sense, the Torah is given to us yearly at Shavuos. Hence, year after year, we again count the days from our freedom (Pesach) till the purpose of that freedom (Shavuos). This shows our anticipation and excitement to again experience that spiritual height on Shavuos. It also connects Pesach and redemption to its ultimate purpose.

Going one step deeper, the period of sefiras ha’omer is one of growth. In order to receive the Torah, we need to transform ourselves to be worthy receptacles fit for that great merit. The Mishna (Pirkei Avos ch. 6) enumerates 48 study habits and positive character traits through which one merits the acquisition of Torah. The 49 days of “counting” are a period of acquiring these “48 ways,” and on the last day fusing them into oneself, ready to receive the Torah on Day 50, the day of Shavuos.

To study these “48 ways,” go to aish.com and click “spirituality,” then choose “48 ways.” It promises to be very enlightening!

The Kabbalistic sources provide yet another vehicle for growth through the sefiras ha’omer, based upon the concept of sefiros, or 10 levels of existence. During these 49 days of sefiras ha’omer, it is a time to perfect ourselves in relation to the seven lower sefiros, those sefiros which reflect God’s interaction with the physical world. These seven sefiros interact with each other, like DNA, where every cell of the body has within it the DNA of every other part of the body. Each sefirah contains all the aspects of each other sefirah within itself, hence the seven multiples of seven, or 49 days of counting.

In order to tap into this spiritual energy we must actually count, connecting to the day and marking it as a time of growth and introspection, taking us forward toward Shavuos.

Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at yfried@sbcglobal.net.

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Never forget

Never forget

Posted on 01 May 2014 by admin

Richardson Mayor Laura Maczka was the first to read names this year at the 13th annual Reading of the Names. | Photo: David Duchin/DSPN Photos

Richardson Mayor Laura Maczka was the first to read names this year at the 13th annual Reading of the Names. | Photo: David Duchin/DSPN Photos

Congregation Beth Torah holds 13th 24-Hour Reading of the Names

By Karen Hoffman

This past Shabbat, at Congregation Beth Torah, a very special morning service occurred. The bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies that never took place, because of lives cut short during the Holocaust, were publicly observed, as Beth Torah prepared to begin its 13th annual 24-hour Reading of the Names Vigil that evening.

Laura Matisoff, Reading of the Names committee member, reads the story of one of 20 young children remembered as part of the bar mitzvah year commemorating and honoring the children that perished in the Holocaust before they reached their bar/bat mitzvahs.  Aaron Stayman, another young adult reader, looks on. | Photo: David Duchin/DSPN Photos

Laura Matisoff, Reading of the Names committee member, reads the story of one of 20 young children remembered as part of the bar mitzvah year commemorating and honoring the children that perished in the Holocaust before they reached their bar/bat mitzvahs. Aaron Stayman, another young adult reader, looks on. | Photo: David Duchin/DSPN Photos

As father and daughter (Chuck Smith and Jessica Winter) shared the honor of chanting the entire Haftorah in memory of children who never had the opportunity, I joined others as tears formed in my eyes. Minutes later, a beautiful writer, Harriet Gross, shared a poignant question Shakespeare once asked, “What’s in a name”? As Harriet spoke, her words tugged at my heart. I carried the memory of standing on the pulpit in the middle of the night, over the past several years, during the annual 24-hour vigil, reciting names, ages, places of births and deaths of those who died during the Holocaust.

Then Rabbi Rafi Cohen shared words about the week’s Torah reading, “Kedoshim,” where we are taught about holiness, how we can be holy and how all people can be holy. As humans created in God’s image, we are all holy beings. Rabbi Cohen asked us to consider how much is as much as possible in what we do? How holy should we be? The commandment to be holy, as Rabbi Cohen taught me that day, is a journey, but that does not mean it’s impossible.

Later on that Shabbat evening at Beth Torah, as we celebrated havdallah, the flame of a single candle was extinguished, and we began lighting 11 other candles. This time memorial candles were lit, in memory of the 6 million Jews and 5 million non Jews who were persecuted and killed during the Holocaust. These people were put to death with no regard for the sparks of holiness with which they were created. I cried, reflecting on the millions of lives lost, and remembering, yes, remembering that all lives are holy.

The 24-Hour Reading of The Names is a perfect time to remember those whose lives were cut way too short. In their memory and in an effort to carry a spark of God’s holiness with me on a day that was subdued more than joyous, I smile. As I sat with my loving husband, I met and hugged my dear friends who had all come together to remember. I rejoiced in appreciation for all the gifts, big, little, hidden and tangible — thankful for the sparks of happiness and holiness I can find in everyday living.

Local Holocaust survivors were recognized during the Yom HaShoah commemoration April 27 at Temple Shalom. | Photo: Courtesy of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Local Holocaust survivors were recognized during the Yom HaShoah commemoration April 27 at Temple Shalom. | Photo: Courtesy of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

Never Forget: Community gathers for Yom HaShoah commemoration

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

“We will never forget” — these words were uttered throughout the Yom HaShoah commemoration April 27. The night was not only a time to remember those who died in the Holocaust, but also to honor the survivors in the community.

The Holocaust Remembrance Day program was hosted by the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance (DHM/CET) at Temple Shalom. Holocaust survivors and their families, along with rabbis, community leaders and more, were in attendance.

Beginning with a procession of the local Holocaust survivors in attendance, the evening opened with Cantor Leslie Niren singing the “Partisan Song.” Temple Shalom Senior Rabbi Andrew Paley shared some powerful insights about the importance of memory.

“Memory is a powerful tool, memory has the power to educate, transmit facts and events from one generation to another,” he said. “Memory has the power to inspire, to provide a measure of hope against overwhelming odds of darkness and despair. But most importantly, memory has the power to transform. As we recall the horror of the Holocaust, as we remember and honor and hear the stories of survival and survivors, let us not be content to just be informed. May it be that the sadness, anger and frustration that we feel in hearing the stories of the Shoah be turned into hopeful, righteous indignation.”

He added that it is the job of everyone to use their memory and resources to put an end to all that causes suffering and indifference.

Aviva Linksman, Rivae Balkin-Kliman, Augie Furst, Tanya Johnson, Elliot Tverye and Dahlia Hellman, six young adults who are third generation Holocaust survivors, shared the stories of their grandparents’ experiences during that time. Each one lit a remembrance torch to represent the six million that died.

Keeping the memory of those who died alive and sharing the stories of those who survived is imperative, according to Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO of the DHM/CET.

“While this work extends throughout the year, today is a special day, Yom HaShoah, a day to reflect on the unimaginable suffering those in the Holocaust endured,” she said. “It’s a day to share the stories of families forever affected by the Holocaust, a day to cherish the healing power of music, a day to preserve the legacy of those who perished, a day to celebrate the lives of those who survived, a day to renew our commitment to fighting hatred and indifference everyday. As we remember those who were murdered in the Holocaust tonight, we must never forget what can happen when ordinary people turn a blind eye to injustice. Each of us can make a difference, each of us must make a choice to get involved to combat hatred and promote human dignity wherever and whenever.”

Music had an integral role during the ceremony, as violinist Gary Levinson and pianist Baya Kakouberi played selections from Fritz Kreisler, Claude Debussy and Frederic Chopin. The musical interludes provided a moment of reflection and symbolized the lasting effects of the Holocaust around the world.

Following closing remarks by DHM/CET board Chair Steve Waldman, Niren sang “El Maleh Rachamim” and everyone recited the Mourner’s Kaddish together.

“Tonight, we remember the names, the pain felt by every victim of the Holocaust and also remember all of the survivors who are here with us and thank them for their will and strength,” Waldman said. “Those who suffered have gone on to rebuild their lives and I am in awe of the stories we heard tonight. We meet here determined that such a tragedy will never happen again, but the notions of hate are still very much among us. Let’s work together to stand up and speak against injustice and discrimination. Yom HaShoah is a day upon which the whole community can stand together and say ‘never again, not here, not anywhere.’”

Three generations of the Glauben family at Texas A&M, from left Alec Becker, Shari Becker, Max Glauben, Delaney Becker and Frieda Glauben. | Photo: Courtesy of Delaney Becker

Three generations of the Glauben family at Texas A&M, from left Alec Becker, Shari Becker, Max Glauben, Delaney Becker and Frieda Glauben. | Photo: Courtesy of Delaney Becker

Glauben shares story of Holocaust survival at A&M

By Caitlin Perrone
Bryan-College Station Eagle

When Alec Becker was in elementary school, he was asked to write a story about his hero.

The other students wrote about Batman or Superman, he said, but he wrote about his “Zayde,” the Yiddish word for grandfather, a Holocaust survivor.

Becker, a Texas A&M senior, sat in the front row in a conference room at the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University Wednesday night, April 9, where over 300 people filled the room to capacity to listen to his 87-year-old grandfather tell his story.

Max Glauben travels across the country as a motivational speaker and was brought to the A&M campus as a speaker for Texas A&M Hillel, which is highlighting a Holocaust survivor once per semester in a guest lecture series.

Even as Glauben spoke to the room for more than an hour about the horrors he faced in concentration camps in Poland and Germany, he would stop to crack a joke and see the faces in the room light up.

There are deep lines in his face from years of laughter, but you can also see the letters “KL” tattooed on the top of his right wrist. The letters mark the German word for concentration camp, “konzentrationslager,” a branded reminder of the nightmare he escaped.

“We were good, decent people, accused of being inferior,” he said to the silent room. “Or maybe not good enough to enjoy this world like everybody else.”

Glauben was born in Warsaw, Poland and was thrown headfirst into World War II when he was 10. He and his family lived in the area that would later become the Warsaw Ghetto, where they remained for almost three years.

Glauben’s father worked in a coal and wood yard, and Glauben would sneak outside of the ghetto to bring food back to his family. A family of eight was rationed 368 calories to split, he said, and an individual would be gifted with 184 calories if they were useful or knew somebody important.

In 1943, Glauben and his family were sent to the Maidanak concentration camp. They boarded a train and were given no food or water for five days.

When they arrived, the prisoners were separated into groups that could work and those that could not. Glauben began to follow his mother and younger brother into the line that would lead them to a concentration camp, but his father grabbed his arm at the last second.

“My dad said ‘stay with me,’ and grabbed my hand,” Glauben said. “He saved my life.”

Glauben and his father were taken into a labor camp, but he never saw his mother and brother again.

Over the next year, he moved between five concentration camps, where he worked in airplane factories and salt mines. His father died in the second camp, so Glauben became an orphan at 13.

In 1945, the boy was taken on a death march toward Dachau, the Nazi concentration camp in Germany, before the prisoners were liberated by American troops. He remembers leaving with seven other boys, and said he still keeps in contact with some to this day.

“One still calls me on Sundays when I’m watching the Cowboys play,” he said.

Glauben was placed in an orphanage in Germany, then emigrated to the United States and ultimately settled in Atlanta before he was drafted into the Army at age 18. He spent two years at Fort Hood and is a Korean War veteran.

This year for Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was April 28, and Glauben told his story in memory of the 11 million who died, including 6 million Jewish people. He spoke about the 11 million people who lost the chance to have a family. He talked about his seven grandchildren and motioned to Becker in the front row, and his sister, Delaney, who sat two chairs down and is also an A&M student. Both have also gone on death marches to the concentration camps in Poland.

“It’s a very humbling experience — it’s almost surreal watching him stand up here talking to 300 people in a room, a lot of them my friends and peers,” Becker said. “That’s 300 more people who have heard his story and can pass it on in remembrance of what he’s gone through.”

When a member of the audience stood to ask Glauben if he had forgiven the Germans, Glauben said it does not make sense to drink poison to hurt those who have harmed you. He smiled and tapped his head.

“This can decide whether you’re going to take the right way or the wrong way, how you’re going to be as a person, whether you’re going to be good or bad,” he said. “It’s up to each one of you to make the right decision. And if you do, I’ll guarantee, we will live in a peaceful world.”

This article first appeared in the Brian-College Station Eagle and is reprinted with permission.

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3 yoms of spring

3 yoms of spring

Posted on 01 May 2014 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

seymourforweb2Passover is over but the story doesn’t end — the three pilgrimage holidays are all connected and we are “walking” toward Shavuot.

However, between Passover and Shavuot, we have a few “new” holidays. Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, followed by Yom HaZikaron, Day of Remembrance for those who died defending Israel and then Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day.

These are important dates and teach us that remembering our history is crucial to our survival as a people.

Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day, is the day of lots of celebration, and this year we hope everyone will be at the JCC to celebrate with all of the Jewish organizations in town. There will be something for everyone plus food, music and fun! It is an afternoon for the entire family so come to the J from 4:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday May 6 and be ready to celebrate Israel.

Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron are both somber times, yet we remember that the state of Israel was born out of the horror of the Shoah and through the fighting of the Israeli soldiers. These are events in our community for older children and teens with their families and give us a wonderful opportunity to talk with our children about Israel.

For very young children, it is difficult to conceive of another country far away — most do not even understand Dallas or Texas or the United States. It is important, however, to build that connection to the land of Israel for our children. There is a wonderful story that I remember each year at this time:

There was a little boy out in the field holding tightly to a string that went way up into the clouds. He kept his eyes looking up and his hands on the string pulling gently. A man came by and asked what he was doing. The little boy answered that he was flying a kite. The man asked how he could know since he could not see the kite in the clouds. The little boy answered, “I know because of the tug.” Israel is far away but we can always feel that tug at our heart to know it is there.

We sing “Hatikvah” together and the words and music touch our hearts. For many of us, the words in Hebrew simply connect us to a land that speaks a language we are not conversant in, so here are the words in English — remember the yearning and the hope!

As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,
With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,
Then our hope — the two-thousand-year-old hope, will not be lost:
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem!

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.

Laura Seymour is director of Jewish Life and Learning at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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